In their first Premier League transfer window in decades — awash with speculation and rumour — Nottingham Forest are going about their business with a steady, methodical approach as the new season approaches
For the textbook example of what Nottingham Forest being in the Premier League means, the Brice Samba situation says it all: He’s rejected a new contract. He’s been offered double his money. He hasn’t been offered more money. French clubs are interested. He’s been told he won’t be first choice goalkeeper.
It could be a combination of all these things. Or none of these things. We don’t really know. But speculation, of course, is rife.
The last time Forest were in the Premier League there was no social media — no Twitter, no Facebook, no YouTube, no @indykaila… Google wasn’t even fully functioning. AltaVista was probably your search engine of choice. Or Yahoo.
If you wanted transfer news you were most likely reading the newspapers or watching pages flash by on Ceefax. The Nottingham Evening Post was where you went for your ‘It’s Baggio!’ headlines. In print.
Of course, we’re well versed in the transfer rumours of the 21st century. Except… we’re in the Premier League now. It’s a brave new world where we’re not an afterthought in the national press, where the global interest is constant and (almost) everyone has an agenda.
Every move is followed, every rumour acted upon, every made-up story becomes a headline… we are back with the big boys now, and everything’s changed. Filtering the truth from the fiction is a constant battle. (Except when you realise only a handful of trusted journalist actually know what’s going on.)
We will be linked with endless amounts of players. Some of these will be on the club’s radar, many won’t be. Speculation will continue to be rife about all players and all transfers until 11pm on 1 September. And probably after.
However, the club, for the first time in years, is in good hands. And thankfully we can trust them to proceed carefully through the maze. A list of targets for either being in the Championship or the Premier League was drawn up months ago, and based on activity during the last two transfer windows we can expect good value and a few surprises.
There is money to be spent, and there are positions to be filled. But it needs to be done wisely — spending millions on deals is one thing, destroying any sense of a wage structure is another.
Morgan Gibbs-White and Neco Williams are younger still, and come under that category. And there are plenty of other players being seriously considered — last season’s loanees may yet still return although it seems the price tag mean other targets may come first.
The club have acted quickly to secure a first choice ‘keeper to replace Samba — which may have been the plan all along — with Dean Henderson looking likely to arrive on a season-long loan from Manchester United, possibly with an option to buy.
This last part could be key in James Garner returning, if the loophole applies. (Premier League clubs can only sign two players on loan, and only one from another club.) Either way, far better to bring your targets in early rather than waiting for the possibility Erik ten Hag decides to allow Garner to go out on loan again — which could take weeks.
Some of the targets may come to nothing — if the fee or wages cannot be agreed — but we can be sure that Dane Murphy, Steve Cooper and George Syrianos have a strategy and that they’re working particularly hard to ready the club for the Premier League.
With news that Cooper has agreed a new deal in principle, we just need Brennan Johnson to follow suit and some of the hard work will be done.
In the meantime, we’ve got 10 weeks of transfer window fun to get on with — a brave new world of stories, rumours, titbits, demands, disappointments, celebrations and dirty laundry being washed before your eyes. Enjoy the ride.